Coarctation of the aorta is a common heart defect present at birth.
With this defect, a portion of the large blood vessel that carries blood from
the heart to the rest of the body (aorta) is abnormally narrowed or pinched.
Coarctation of the aorta makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the body. Over time, this can lead to high blood
pressure, heart failure, or other complications.
The most obvious symptoms of coarctation of the aorta are signs of
heart failure—such as difficulty breathing, poor weight gain, sweating, and
being sleepy and fussy most of the time—and decreased pulses in the legs. This
condition is usually detected in newborns during normal blood pressure checks
and by listening to the heart. Further tests, such as echocardiography, may be
done to confirm the diagnosis.
Coarctation of the aorta requires repair by surgery or heart catheterization. If the condition is not
repaired, a person with coarctation of the aorta may not live past the age of
40 or 50.
October 11, 2011
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Larry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology
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